It’s only been about 4 months since The Anchor House flooded. It feels like a lifetime since I watched waters consume buildings that Chris and I poured our heart and soul into being built. I still remember the utter helplessness and dulling of emotion as I was caught in the inability to stop something so wrong from happening.
Of the many things I still grapple with, one is why does our unconditionally loving God allow us to pass through times of such trial? Many Christians rush to find the silver lining, the good in the midst of heartache, often skipping our very innate emotions to feel pain. When The Anchor House flooded, I knew God was present, even though I did not feel it. I knew God had goodness for me and Restore One, even though it didn’t look like it. And yet still my body reacted in result to the trauma I experienced. I had nightmares for several weeks following the event. I’d wake up in the middle of the night with an inclination to look outside my window to make sure flood waters weren’t surrounding my own house and the reason for this was because Chris and I nearly had flood waters enter into our own home the night before The Anchor House flooded. I experienced many moments of feeling lost, sad or angry. My prayers were truthful laments of my experience of doubting and wondering.
Regardless of our faith, trauma can still impact us on a spiritual, psychological and physical level, and I’ve learned it does not mean I am weak or less of a Christian. I’ve learned it’s okay to be human and to embrace the gift of feeling both sorrow and joy.
In the midst of the approaching season of Lent, I’ve returned to the story of Lazarus. The story is a beautiful and fascinating piece of scripture. The Spirit brought me to this story during the weeks following The Anchor House flooding. I love how no matter how many times we read a scripture it can still speak to us in new and fresh ways.
I get caught in several places finding myself enamored with the characters. The words of Mary and Martha, sisters to Lazarus, to Jesus were, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21 & 32). And Jesus’ compassion poured out as he wept with Mary and others grieving the loss of their beloved friend. A beloved God in flesh who didn’t scold Mary or Martha for a lack of faith or even their questions of Jesus’ timing. He understood, while they loved him, they were experiencing a supreme loss, and he joins them in weeping over what was lost. Yet even in his expression of grief, Jesus knew that Lazarus must die for a season in order to increase the belief of this specific group of people (John 11:14-15). I find this so perplexing and comforting. While God never causes our suffering, He is still Lord over every situation and does not leave us to face heartache alone nor without resolution.
A moment that felt like a paradox turned into a miracle as Jesus asked for Lazarus’ grave stone to be pulled back. The smell of death was pungent, the mourners were caught off guard as Jesus prayed to the Father and then spoke loudly, “Lazarus, come out” (John 11:43). And the unimaginable happened as a dead man came to life, walking out of the grave wrapped in burial clothes. Unfathomably wild! Talk about crashing a funeral!
When The Anchor House flooded I wondered if the vision of a safe home for boys would die with the flood. Death can feel so powerful until we realize that Jesus has already faced and conquered death. Part of the faith process is acknowledging places in our heart that seem dead and trusting God to breath life.
Once volunteers pulled back the wet insulation and sheetrock, the structural beams of The Anchor House became exposed. You can still see the etchings of the flood waters leaving a dark mark on the wood. In the passing months these markings have been a place of remembrance and now have a story we can tell the boys who call these buildings home. They are an acknowledgment of restoration of death thus being a place that is not of perfection but of process. The Anchor House once fully restored will look similar to its original design but the water marks will remain. As a community, we’ll always remember the season where Jesus held us close as death seemed imminent and how piece by piece He gave us the strength to restore the building back to life.
I’ve learned that death can leave its mark but it never has the last word. While we remember our scars and places of deep wounding, in time they become our battle marks, our Ebenezers, an alter of faith and remembrance.
I’ve often wondered how Lazarus’ internal life was changed as Jesus raised him from the dead. Without a doubt I’m sure it was. Jesus always is willing to walk with us through death and bring us through the other side to know his life giving power.
During this season of Lent I invite you to ponder, what are the places within your own life that you have counted as dead? Maybe list them out in your prayer journal and with courage you tell Jesus, asking him tangibly to show you how he will journey with you towards life.
Stay Brave Friends,
Anna Maire Smith